Lord, Teach Me to Pray with Scripture - Part 2
Q: I’ve heard it is important to pray more with Scripture. How do I do this? Is there a simple way to dive in to the Bible without getting stuck in the book of Leviticus?
Answer: That’s a great question! When I was in high school, I decided that I wanted to read through the entire Bible, cover to cover. Two years later, I accomplished that goal, and I am glad I did. However, while working through this reading endeavor, sometimes it really turned into just that, a reading endeavor, not a prayer endeavor.
When I got to college, I learned about a monthly prayer event held in the chapel called Lectio Divina, which is Latin for “Divine Reading”. Each month the Archbishop invited a handful of students for breakfast and asked them to choose a Scripture passage for the next month’s Lectio Divina evening.The morning I was invited, I had just read about The Calming of a Storm at Sea in the Gospel of Mark. Midterm season was right around the corner and I thought this passage would be a good fit, so I shared it with the group. It ended up being chosen as the Scripture for that month’s Lectio Divina evening, and through this new experience, I learned how to enter into Scripture in a new and deeper way which led me closer to Christ.
As you begin praying with Lectio Divina, plan to set aside at least ten minutes to really focus your prayer. Pick a Scripture passage that intrigues, inspires, or interests you. The Gospels are a great place to begin because it is in these very books that we hear Jesus’ words directly. If you are not sure which one to choose, use the Gospel of the day. You can find the daily readings read at Mass by visiting usccb.org.
In Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Exhortation, Verbum Domini, he wrote about the “Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church” while emphasizing Lectio Divina as a form of prayerful reading. He writes that although there are a number of approaches to Sacred Scripture, great attention has been given to Lectio Divina, “which is truly capable of opening up to the faithful the treasures of God’s word, but also of bringing about an encounter with Christ, the living word of God.’” He goes on to explain the steps of praying with Lectio Divina.
Lectio (Reading): Read through the passage once and figure out what the text is saying. What word or phrase jumps out at you?
Meditatio (Meditation/Reflection): Read through the passage a second time, but more slowly. Pay special attention to the sections which jumped out at you in your first reading of the passage. Then meditate on what Jesus is saying to you and showing you. Pray with the passage a third and final time, at an even slower pace. As our Archbishop said, “really ruminate” on the Scripture. One translation of the word is to “chew the cud”. This may not be the most pretty picture to imagine, but it gets the point across! Really mull over the words you feel Jesus is pointing out to you.
Oratio (Prayer): Use this time to pray with the passage you’ve chosen to read, especially with the word or phrase that sticks out to you. Pray about how you want to respond to what the Lord has shown you and thank Him for speaking to you.
Contemplatio (Contemplation): Spend a few minutes contemplating what the Lord has shown you and bask in the goodness of His presence.
Benedict completes these steps by saying that “the process of lectio divina is not concluded until it arrives at action (actio), which moves the believer to make his or her life a gift for others in charity.” For me, the story of Jesus calming the storm showed me that sometimes, yes, Jesus does allow our feet to get wet, and it is uncomfortable and sometimes even scary, but He always keeps us safe from drowning. My actio was to view those moments as opportunities to grow in trust of Jesus and allow Him to stretch my faith.
Are you ready to dive in? Here are a few scripture passages to help get you started:
Susanna Parent is a Wisconsin native who begins her morning brewing French press coffee in the home she shares with her husband in charming old Saint Paul. When the sun sets, you’ll find her with friends enjoying a glass of red wine, preferably outside underneath twinkly lights. When not exploring all that the Twin Cities has to offer, she is indulging her wanderlust spirit and writing about it later on her blog fiatandalily.